A lot of woodworkers keep an oily rag around to wipe down their tools when they are done. I have never really cared for this idea. I would probably toss the rag down on a piece of wood that is ready to finish and cause myself all kinds of finishing issues. Not to mention that this gets your hands as oily as it does the tool. I have always wanted to try one of the Camellia oil applicators that you can get from a lot of Japanese tool merchants. This one is from Japan Woodworker. For whatever reason I have never been to a store or making a online order from someone that carries them.
My mother has operated a upholstery shop now for almost 40 years. While at her shop the other day I noticed a she had this thick felt (probably 1/4" thick or so). It looked similar to the wick they use in the Camellia oil applicators in the magazines. Light bulbs started coming on. I grabbed a small piece and began to hunt for some type of bottle that would work as a container. My first thought was baby jar. The thought of broken glass everywhere wiped that from my mind. I went to my medicine cabinet and saw something that would work great. It was a old bottle of dog worming medicine. Seemed like the perfect size.
I took a small piece of felt and rolled it up like a into a tight roll. I got it to the right size so that the roll would go into the opening with a little coaxing. I then pulled the wick out and put oil in the container, leaving plenty of room for wick. I put the wick in place leaving maybe 3/8" above the lip. I turned the bottle over and nothing come out...so far so good. I left the bottle upside down for a 15 minutes or so it would have time to soak the felt. After 15 minutes the felt still felt dry, no yellow Camellia oil tint to it. I had to scratch my head for a minute. I wondered if the felt might be too tight in the neck of the bottle? I took a ice pick and pushed into the middle of the wick. I pulled the ice pick out and you could see I had made it to the oil. I turned it back over and instantly you could see the Camellia oil soaking the felt.
I took a chisel and gave the makeshift applicator a shot. Works like a charm. Leaves a nice even coat of oil like a Lie-Nielsen tool right out of the box. I don't think it would be necessary to have any kind of cap on it. This will make it much easier to keep my tools protected. The only downside to this solution is that to refill the bottle you would have to pull the wick out. Now I know that all of this seems like a lot of trouble to go though over a $10 dollar Camellia oil applicator. Your right, If I ever come across one of those applicators I will probably buy one. But for now, this works great.